Staff at St Hilda's talk about the difference that ultra-fast broadband has made to teaching and learning. It has made a significant change to teaching and learning approaches, and the ability to use internet based tools for both sourcing and storing information, and processing and delivering it.
e-Learning for us is really about the use of a range of digital tools in the classroom. I think it’s about engaging students on one level. A bigger motivation has been this desire to achieve a dream of a school vision in terms of learner attributes via the use of digital technologies.
Having the ultra fast broadband at school has made a huge difference. The girls are able to access things quickly. Often the Internet access is faster than they have at home.
For the first year we had a 1-1 laptop programme going and we didn’t actually have the Internet capacity and it was a problem but that’s been fixed this year.
We also have access toMoodle, which is a really big part of having a laptop at St. Hilda’s. Every student has an account and the teachers can upload files, movies, audio files, everything.
The ultra fast broadband, the difference that’s made because our internet was so slow before we would actually regularly, every day, several times a day we would get to a point where the student internet connection would completely stop. Page loads wouldn’t even happen. It was completely grinding to a halt every day. Also to manage the bandwidth with we were having to block Internet video and a lot of really good web 2.0 sites that we could see were of really good teaching and learning value. We just didn’t actually have the capacity to run it. Now with the ultra fast connection none of that’s a problem.
I think that the benefits of this is that it really does differentiate the learning within the classroom. It enables you to extend students based on where they perceive their strengths to be. We’ve very much moved away from the traditional teaching of mathematics of textbooks, pencils, papers. I teach it in a contextual way - so to have the laptops there that enables the girls to research things to enable them to put their maths in context is invaluable.
What e-learning has given us is basically the opportunity to give students more options in terms of how they actually take an idea, develop it through, create works, analyse those works then come back and clarify them. Then produce a finished product. We can be multitasking through a unit and it gives the students more independence. Ultra fast broadband has made that difference. Students aren’t restricted; physically they’re not restricted in terms of being able to use their laptops when they need to. It’s been great.
Something we’ve found with having to change they way we go about teaching lessons is that it allows us a lot more time for teacher student interaction.
What it has meant is that you have an over arching goal in mind but then you have to step back a little bit, let the students make some decisions and then support them with the decisions that they’ve made.
Constantly we’ll keep working on what’s new and what’s possible, I think that thought of what is possible is really exciting.
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